Seb Robert is the CEO and founder of Gophr, a logistics company that has built a platform for same-day delivery couriers.
Robert founded Gophr in 2014 after becoming frustrated with poor courier experiences. His company is aiming to reimagine last-mile delivery by using software to match couriers with the most efficient delivery option for businesses.
The London-based company counts brands such as HelloFresh, Boots and the Co-op among its customers.
Last year, Gophr raised £4m in Series A funding, bringing its total funding to date to £4.8m. Gophr says it reached expected turnover of £17m in 2021, with the pandemic boom of online deliveries helping the firm hit four million same-day deliveries.
In this week’s Founder in Five Q&A, the Gophr founder recalls his worst ever pitching experience, shares whether founders should be outspoken on social media and explains why he’s not yet convinced by Facebook’s vision of the metaverse.
1. What’s your worst pitching experience?
Seb Robert: The one that stands out was a Zoom call with a highly prestigious US investor who we were very keen to get on board. We’re pitching this awesome deck we spent all week putting together. About 15 minutes in, one of their team says “excuse me, are we supposed to be seeing slides here?”
I hadn’t shared my screen properly. My team didn’t tell me and later on they said they simply froze and didn’t know what to do, and it got worse the longer it went on. We didn’t cover ourselves in glory on that one.
2. Should founders be outspoken on social media?
SR: This is a marketing tactic that gets used a lot – being the outspoken one who has a hot take on the industry. But I’d rather contribute to conversations and topics I feel I can add something to – a point of view, some insight, some experience. I never start out trying to be outspoken just to add to the noise.
I’d rather let our products and services speak for us. Saying something outrageous or controversial might get you some retweets, but if you try to be useful then I think that’s what makes people trust your opinion.
3. Do you collect anything?
SR: Trainers, and tunes. Although I’ve slowed down on both lately. On the trainer front, you used to be able to pick up some awesome stuff on sale. That started to change around six years ago when sneaker reselling really started to take off. Since the Michael Jordan documentary launched on Netflix last year, forget it.
Tunes I just put into playlists. I need to listen to stuff without lyrics otherwise it’s too distracting. Beats and melodies from 60 to 140bpm tend to do the trick.
4. Which nascent technology holds the most promise?
SR: It’s not necessarily nascent but Web3 is the most promising to me, assuming it cracks large-scale adoption. The ability to make data, credentials and assets trustless, transportable and adaptable across multiple software environments is massive. It moves beyond platforms disrupting industries and becomes about what combinations you can create to unlock new solutions to serve multiple industries, creating more value than previously thought possible.
I don’t want to come across as some dreamy-eyed idealist; I was around for Web2 when its champions thought it was going to unlock world peace. But if it works, it should move things forward significantly.
5. Which hyped-up technology do you think is doomed to fail?
SR: I still need to be convinced on the metaverse as understood in Facebook promo videos. I don’t think it’s doomed to fail necessarily but I’m old enough to remember virtual reality when the Lawnmower Man came out on VHS, and Second Life when it was taking off in 2010 before stalling a few years later.
Clearly, first-person gaming has been around forever, I just think there’s a limit to what you can do with totally immersive worlds that mainly need headsets for now. Augmented reality seems like a better bet, both from a leisure, business and functional perspective.
Founder in Five – a UKTN Q&A series with the entrepreneurs behind the UK’s innovative startups, scaleups, unicorns and public tech companies – is published every Friday.